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rhaythorne

Why are watch straps so expensive?

35 posts in this topic

Watch straps are very expensive.

Some of you may have seen that I bought a new watch strap for my RLT77 last week.  It cost £20 which, compared to many other brands of watch strap, is something of a bargain. Until, perhaps, you compare it to the leather belt you can see in the pictures below, which is of a similar construction, contains vastly more material, but also cost only £20.

watchstrap1.jpg

watchstrap3.jpg

watchstrap2.jpg

 

So, why are watch straps comparatively such poor value for money?

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Just had a look at utube for strap making. Lots of video on hand sewn ,hand cut etc and hand finished. From Hadley Roma and Hermes maybe these are only the better or best ones but does seem labour intensive. Then again depends on the type of leather,can see alligator or sting ray putting the price up compared to cow or horse,. 

Strap makers on the forum seem to sell hand produced ones between £20 to £30 pounds and can see those taking maybe an hour overall to produce plus materials and costs.

so belts, cheap leather types .no stitching to speak of,machine cut and machine riveted buckles. £10 a go on the market for the wider ones?.

personally wouldn't pay more than £20 for a strap but that's just a tight fisted tyke

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I'm making watch straps.
Doing everything by hand with no machines and patterns, just hand tools.
Cutting, gluing, sewing, finishing edges, everything by hand.
It takes me 2 to 3 hours to make one strap. (because I'm still working it's my spare time, mostly nights and weekends)
I've spent thousands of pounds for leather, tools and  other materials  for strapmaking.
Because I'm selling my straps I have to pay various fees, taxes etc.
I'm charging approximately 40£ for a strap.

Are watch straps very expensive?

qLwRI2.jpg

WfeIZU.jpg

Luh5QE.jpg

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13 minutes ago, Miterant said:

I'm making watch straps.
Doing everything by hand with no machines and patterns, just hand tools.
Cutting, gluing, sewing, finishing edges, everything by hand.
It takes me 2 to 3 hours to make one strap. (because I'm still working it's my spare time, mostly nights and weekends)
I've spent thousands of pounds for leather, tools and  other materials  for strapmaking.
Because I'm selling my straps I have to pay various fees, taxes etc.
I'm charging approximately 40£ for a strap.

Are watch straps very expensive?

qLwRI2.jpg

WfeIZU.jpg

Luh5QE.jpg

Your straps look beautiful and worth every penny. 

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Same reason divorces are so expensive...  because they're worth it! 

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I imagine economies of scale come into it. More people buy belts than watch straps one would think.

I still think they are absurdly expensive for what they are though, especially when compared to a good belt. I've had handmade leather belts which by their design, suppleness etc must have taken just as long if not longer to make than a watch strap, use 50X the material, yet cost less than some calf skin Hirsch straps.

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Good question. No idea!

Seriously though, replacement leather watch starts are crazy. 

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Pav,

Your straps are the very top quality.    To be quite honest,  they should cost much much more than you charge.     It must be hard to strike a balance between achieving the quality you want and making a strap to a saleable price.     I imagine people will be reluctant to pay £90 or so for a strap so you may have trouble in scaling up your operation on a paying basis.     Your straps suggest you are most concerned with producing real quality so it would be a soul destroying thing to compromise on the time spent on each strap and your attention to detail.

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On 15/05/2016 at 22:34, Gpts said:

I'm making watch straps.
Doing everything by hand with no machines and patterns, just hand tools.
Cutting, gluing, sewing, finishing edges, everything by hand.
It takes me 2 to 3 hours to make one strap. (because I'm still working it's my spare time, mostly nights and weekends)
I've spent thousands of pounds for leather, tools and  other materials  for strapmaking.
Because I'm selling my straps I have to pay various fees, taxes etc.
I'm charging approximately 40£ for a strap.

Are watch straps very expensive?

I was looking at your straps earlier today and agree with the comments above they are a thing of beauty. 

 

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In addition to cost of labour that has been mentioned, Leather quality varies wildly. Even with "bog standard" cow leather, you have a really wide range. There are lots of factors, each of which individually factor into value. 

Off to the top of my head, based on discussions I have had with Northampton shoemakers: 

  • Age of the animal: calfskin is expensive because it is softer and more flexible. 
  • Grain: cheaper leather is ground down until the natural grain is gone, and sanded down and/or artificial grain is stamped on. Full grain is where the natural grain is retained. Within the full-grain range, the more pleasing/perfect the grain is naturally, the more expensive it is. 
  • Cut: different parts of the hide is valued differently. The belly is cheaper and generally used for shoe/strap lining whereas the "shell"/hindquarter leather is generally considered the most valuable. With more exotic leathers, a better cut can raise the value of leather three or four times. With alligator, full cut of the bigger scales is MUCH more expensive than the smaller ones as a very small percentage of the scales are both big enough to provide a "full cut" effect yet soft enough to remain flexible. 
  • Tannery: leather price differs depending on where it is sourced. Italian and French tanneries tend to charge the most, I am told Germany used to be best value for money but they have gotten more expensive and that Eastern Europe is now the source of quality leather at budget prices. Horween also charges quite a premium for some of their speciality leathers.

 

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if people keep paying, they will keep selling.

like the Panerai rubber straps, these are..... rubber/silicone or some blend and probably spat out of a 'calibrated' moulding machine, still you won't get much change out of £180.

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I thought this post was going to be about the frankly ridiculous prices charged by the main brands for replacement straps\ bracelets etc. 

I think 40 GBP for a handmade leather strap is a bargain!

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Old thread but valid point, £20 is not expensive for a watch strap and there are a few online who do handmade ones for £40 which is another bargain as Toshi ones start at about £80 - £100 and the Harold Pinchbeck handmade straps are about the same.  That being said cost also comes into the martials used, what type of leather is it?  How easy is it to get that leather?  Its one thing to get some run of the mill belt with leather from God knows where or what animal its another to get a good quality belt made from high quality leather that's going to cost considerably more.

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2 minutes ago, ZenArcade said:

Old thread but valid point, £20 is not expensive for a watch strap and there are a few online who do handmade ones for £40 which is another bargain as Toshi ones start at about £80 - £100 and the Harold Pinchbeck handmade straps are about the same.  That being said cost also comes into the martials used, what type of leather is it?  How easy is it to get that leather?  Its one thing to get some run of the mill belt with leather from God knows where or what animal its another to get a good quality belt made from high quality leather that's going to cost considerably more.

The leather my maker uses for belts is of equal quality as my watch straps in both materials and craftsmanship, and cost £30. As such I can't but think that on a per-item basis, either this guy is selling his belts at a huge loss, or the straps are hugely overpriced. But prices do not necessarily reflect the supply and demand of both markets. There will be a lot more people buying belts than spare watch straps. 

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Dear Miterant, what a lovely strap you show!  And that is the sort of strap I don't mind paying that bit extra for.:)

One thing I do find a bit annoying is bespoke straps that cost a bomb to replace merely because the watch company has got you by the short and curlies. I had a really nice Storm chronograph that needed a new rubber strap, and because the strap was unique to the watch, I had no option but to ask Storm for a replacement. It wasn't cheap, and all for a bit of mass-produced rubber and metal.

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On 04/09/2016 at 12:03, hughlle said:

The leather my maker uses for belts is of equal quality as my watch straps in both materials and craftsmanship, and cost £30. As such I can't but think that on a per-item basis, either this guy is selling his belts at a huge loss, or the straps are hugely overpriced. But prices do not necessarily reflect the supply and demand of both markets. There will be a lot more people buying belts than spare watch straps. 

From everything I can tell - I would think that your belt maker is making nothing or a loss. A few points here... 

Are the belts hand or machine stitched - the time taken for hand stitching is huge by comparison. The quality of the very best calf, alligator, croc straps is a cut above any belt I have seen for similar money. As an overall item I agree some belts are very, very good, but if you look/feel a small section it is unlikely to be as supple or consistent. 

Even if your belt makers 'costs' are only a £5 for the leather, buckle, lining, padding, stitching, edge wax etc, then that means he is left with £25 for 2 hours work. Would you be willing to earn £12.50/hour after you have invested thousands into a business? 

I believe that more often than not, these 'small bespoke makers' are selling a product of their hobby with no intention of making any return or profit. They see the tool costs as hobby spend, and so long as the sale price covers their direct material costs they are OK with that.

The result is you may be getting a great belt that 'should' cost a lot more if it were priced to return the equipment investment, pay a wage that is in line with the skill, cover business overheads and turn a reasonable profit if it were a company. Consider your belts a very good bargain - and let me know who they are from as I need a new belt!

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14 minutes ago, Bluehase284 said:

From everything I can tell - I would think that your belt maker is making nothing or a loss. A few points here... 

Are the belts hand or machine stitched - the time taken for hand stitching is huge by comparison. The quality of the very best calf, alligator, croc straps is a cut above any belt I have seen for similar money. As an overall item I agree some belts are very, very good, but if you look/feel a small section it is unlikely to be as supple or consistent. 

Even if your belt makers 'costs' are only a £5 for the leather, buckle, lining, padding, stitching, edge wax etc, then that means he is left with £25 for 2 hours work. Would you be willing to earn £12.50/hour after you have invested thousands into a business? 

I believe that more often than not, these 'small bespoke makers' are selling a product of their hobby with no intention of making any return or profit. They see the tool costs as hobby spend, and so long as the sale price covers their direct material costs they are OK with that.

The result is you may be getting a great belt that 'should' cost a lot more if it were priced to return the equipment investment, pay a wage that is in line with the skill, cover business overheads and turn a reasonable profit if it were a company. Consider your belts a very good bargain - and let me know who they are from as I need a new belt!

One of these cost me more than any watch strap I've bought.

img_2519.1457134771.jpg

R.M. Williams.

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WfeIZU.jpg


Wow. That's gorgeous.



Sent from my brain using evolution and electricity.

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On 5/15/2016 at 23:20, Miterant said:

I'm making watch straps.
Doing everything by hand with no machines and patterns, just hand tools.
Cutting, gluing, sewing, finishing edges, everything by hand.
It takes me 2 to 3 hours to make one strap. (because I'm still working it's my spare time, mostly nights and weekends)
I've spent thousands of pounds for leather, tools and  other materials  for strapmaking.
Because I'm selling my straps I have to pay various fees, taxes etc.
I'm charging approximately 40£ for a strap.

Are watch straps very expensive?

qLwRI2.jpg

WfeIZU.jpg

Luh5QE.jpg

I must admit your straps look excellent :thumbsup:

You say you spent thousands on tools & leather, what hand tools cost £1000's as you do not use machinery? I thought the cost would £500 for tools?

Cheers Martin :)

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6 hours ago, martinzx said:

I must admit your straps look excellent :thumbsup:

You say you spent thousands on tools & leather, what hand tools cost £1000's as you do not use machinery? I thought the cost would £500 for tools?

Cheers Martin :)

 

HI,

First I'd like to thank for all the kind words about my straps in this thread, I've read them and I appreciate it.

For me it's like Trigger said, I can understand people who can't afford or don't want to pay that much for straps because I'm also not a wealthy person and started to make my own straps because I couldn't afford to buy proper ones. But on the other hand when I counted all the money and time I'm spending for making straps I've realized it's not really worth it. I didn't leave it just because I like it and it became my hobby. To make a better business I suppose to charge like Toshi, Heuerville, Watch Obsession for JDM straps etc. or lower the quality of the straps (cheaper leather, less time spent for finishing, use a machinery)

I've seen here on the Forum a thread about the straps hand made in Devon, one layer straps with minimal stitching, unfinished edges. I can do 2-3 straps like them per hour and charge 20£ each. It can give me a 3 - 4 times bigger profit than I've got now. But I can't do this. I'm treating strapmaking as a passion and trying to make my straps perfect. Of course I'm not always successful .

I said I spent 1000's £ for tools, leather and materials  and it's a real truth, most of the money I've spent for a leather but for the tools itself I'm pretty sure over 1000£.
For example a hole punch like You can see on the above picture. Regular price is 60£( Just checked, it's now on sale for 45£)
Before I have bought this I've spent another 50£ for a couple of cheaper ones which landed in the bin after one use.  The same with the other tools. Started with cheaper ones then replaced for better and more expensive ones.  
Don't get me wrong, You can do a quite good strap using tools for 50£. But if You want to improve Your technique and Your work You need to invest more.

 

 

 

 

 

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Hi Miterant

 

There is an old adage 'We all want a Rolls Royce for the price of a Mini'.

Invariably, if we want bespoke items we have to pay the price.

 

As an avid collector of vintage timepieces I always strive to match the strap with the watch.  If I cannot source a vintage one I get one made.

My strap maker has in the past incorporated the original buckle if the strap itself is past being of serviceable use.

 

I learnt a long time ago, if you find a good artisan/tradesperson, plumber, electrician, mechanic strike up a relationship and pay his price!...it will serve you well.

 

I fail to see why anyone spending hundreds/thousands on their sought after timepiece expecting to get a decent strap for £20.

Sometimes I have got lucky and obtained a period NOS strap for under £20 but had to rejuvenate the leather with dressing.

 

My advice for what it is worth, engage with the strap maker and I'm sure you will be happy.

 

Tempus Fugit

 

Alan

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I think if you were to compare a top end strap from Camille Fournet et al to a Hiosh or other cheaper brand its not on the same level. 

You may not care or be willing to pay for the subtle difference, but it is there and some are willing to pay for it if they care, some are not. But as above you are not really paying for material, you are paying for time, investment and craftsmanship. 

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On 9/9/2016 at 18:30, Karrusel said:

Hi Miterant

 

There is an old adage 'We all want a Rolls Royce for the price of a Mini'.

Invariably, if we want bespoke items we have to pay the price.

 

As an avid collector of vintage timepieces I always strive to match the strap with the watch.  If I cannot source a vintage one I get one made.

My strap maker has in the past incorporated the original buckle if the strap itself is past being of serviceable use.

 

I learnt a long time ago, if you find a good artisan/tradesperson, plumber, electrician, mechanic strike up a relationship and pay his price!...it will serve you well.

 

I fail to see why anyone spending hundreds/thousands on their sought after timepiece expecting to get a decent strap for £20.

Sometimes I have got lucky and obtained a period NOS strap for under £20 but had to rejuvenate the leather with dressing.

 

My advice for what it is worth, engage with the strap maker and I'm sure you will be happy.

 

Tempus Fugit

 

Alan

Completely agree. At the opposite end of the scale, I like to match my old Russian Zim watches with the appropriate period style straps. I've been buying these for well under £2. Yesterday I caught my watch on the corner of a fence post that hard it ripped one of the spring bars off, watch and strap survived undamaged.

il_570xN.1074536791_h3fx.jpg

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Mine was very expensive because its genuine Blue Alligator and most alligators are not blue. So its the rarity and danger of hunting them. That is what I think. 

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Just my opinion but however much a strap made out of bits of dead animal costs it`s waaay too cheap $ (51).gif $ (31).gif

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